Recently there’s been a lot of talk about sex education. Perhaps it’s because school is back in session or maybe it’s just another political argument. It may even due to the recent report the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) released that shows school districts across the state are providing sex ed that is outdated, biased, and inaccurate. Either way, people are concerned about what American children are learning about in their sexuality education classes.
Even though the National Sex Education Standards were released earlier this year, they merely offer a guide for a curriculum and are not binding. Sex ed in American schools is atrocious with many offering abstinence-only education. Even states require that offer “comprehensive” sexuality health programs require that abstinence is highlighted. The CDC reports that “in 2006, 87% of U.S. public and private high schools taught abstinence as the most effective method to avoid pregnancy, HIV and other STDs in a required health education course.” When youth are taught about sex and sexuality, there is often a focus on the negative aspects, such as sexual problems and consequences.
This is unfair to adolescents who deserve to be told all aspects of sex, which includes the risks as well as the benefits of being involved intimately. According to the WHO, “sexual health […] requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.”
In line with positive sexual health curricula, is how we try to promote comprehensive sex ed. While I love the infographic below, its argument is designed to shame pregnant and parenting teens, as Jos from Feministing points out. Reproductive health, rights, and justice is rooted in being empowered to make healthy decisions about our bodies and sexualities. This needs to be reflected in sexuality education.Further Reading Vaginas Are Sperm Depositories and Other Scary Things About the State of New York’s Sex Ed Curricula [RH Reality Check] Plenty of Georgians like eating peaches, why can’t we talk about it? [Choice USA] New Standards for Sex Ed Released [Marissa Velarde]